Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Thursday, March 14, 2024

OUT NOW: Blab School "Scrolls" [Digital Single]

The first single from Blab School’s self-titled debut album is available now on all digital music platforms. “It is a burner from the get-go with punishing drums, chunky bass lines, and razor-sharp guitars, sounding like Pretty Girls Make Graves meets Superchunk!” ~

Also, today is a very special for an entirely other reason: Happy Birthday to Fikri Yucel, bass player of Blab School! w00t!w00t! Let’s eat cake, AND rock out! 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Pre-Order Forest Fallows Sophomore Album

Forest Fallows, the bedroom recording project of Mike Barnett and Alex Morton, has teamed up with John McEntire (Stereolab, Tortoise, Modest Mouse) to produce their sophomore album Palisades, a mellow, vintage-esque indie record. Based in Tucson AZ, their sound is a blend of the production and style of the 60’s and 70’s with the quirks of 90’s indie and post rock. Their influences range widely from pop outliers Steely Dan and Gerry Rafferty to underground visionaries Tortoise and Michael Nau.

For fans of Animal Collective, Ariel Pink, Atlas Sound, The American Analog Set, Beach Boys, Broadcast, Mac DeMarco, Destroyer, Drugdealer, Ducktails, Esquivel, Goth Babe, Richard Hawley, JPW, Lauds, The Ocean Blue, Peel Dream Magazine, The Radio Dept., Radiohead, Real Estate, The Sea & Cake, Stereolab, Sugar Candy Mountain, The Sundays, Kurt Vile, Yo La Tengo, Wild Nothing, and Woods.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Pre-Order Naïm Amor Twelfth Studio Album

Like many musicians worldwide, Naïm Amor was working on the tracks for a new album when Covid hit and sent the recording and live music worlds into hibernation. And also like many, when he emerged he did with a finished record ready to be released into a music-hungry world. For Stories, his twelfth record since the mid 2000’s, the Parisian born and raised, long time Arizona resident Amor has crafted six instrumentals and three vocal numbers. While Stories may perhaps seem like an offbeat title for a record with several instrumental tracks, it’s also indicates what’s within; it’s raison d’etre is a cinematic approach to music making, one crafted to evoke images and feelings, unlock corners of known and unknown worlds, and yes, to tell stories; with or without the narrative of a human voice.

For fans of The Black Keys, Black Midi, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nels Cline, Edwyn Collins, The Cramps, The Fleshtones, Richard Hawley, King Krule, La Luz, Los Straightjackets, Man or Astro-man?, JD McPherson, Messer Chups, The Meteors, Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Shannon & The Clams, The Sonics, The Surfrajettes, Surprise Chef, Tijuana Panthers,The Tremolo Beer Gut, Whatitdo Archive Group, Jack White, and Link Wray.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Pre-Order Female Gaze Debut LP

Female Gaze makes immersive art to get lost in. Their debut album, Tender Futures, is an experimental concept record that tracks an endless day/night cycle, exploring meditations on mindless-ness as a coping mechanism.

For fans of The Aislers Set, Ariel Pink, Babe Rainbow, Blonde Redhead, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Broadcast, Dead Meadow, The Flaming Lips, Galaxie 500, His Name Is Alive, JPW, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Khruangbin, Melody's Echo Chamber, Moses Gunn Collective, No Joy, Papercuts, Pond, Pure X, Spacemen 3, Sugar Candy Mountain, Mary Timony, The Velvet Underground, The Warlocks.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Pre-Order Blab School Debut Vinyl LP

Blab School is a post-punk quartet from North Carolina.  Their self-titled debut LP comes out on Fort Lowell Records on June 6, 2024.  Taking philosophical cues from American post-punk bands like the Wipers and Talking Heads, also incorporating the goth-adjacent tones of bands like Joy Division and Killing Joke, and adding the often danceable and joyfully nihilistic aesthetic of 21st-century punk, Blab School makes music that is simultaneously urgent and fun, upbeat and crooked, loud and thoughtful.

For fans of Bad Religion, Buzzcocks, Descendants, Drive Like Jehu, The Faction, The Fucking Champs, Gang of Four, Green Day, The Hives, Hot Snakes, Jawbox, The Jesus Lizard, Les Savy Fav, Lightning Bolt, Meatbodies, Melt-Banana, Metz, Osees, Pipe, Pissed Jeans, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Superchunk, and The Thermals.

Saturday, February 24, 2024


[Repost from Port City Daily; Shea Carver, February 22, 2023]

Dead Cool and Tracy Shedd — Great music is being planned for Bourgie Nights this weekend with a little darkwave synthpop from Wilmington’s post-punk darlings Dead Cool and indie stylings of Tracy Shedd. Shedd’s music has been on “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill,” and “The Rebound,” and she has shared the stage with Cat Power, The Magnetic Fields and Iron & Wine. She continues releasing music  — including last year’s “Let It Ride” — on Fort Lowell Records, which she operates with her husband James Tritten. Dead Cool consists of another husband-and-wife team Johnny and Angie Yeagher, who began in the height of Covid and have grown to international acclaim in a short few years. They’ve been touring, released quite a few tracks, including a catchy dark remake of  Scorpion’s “Send Me An Angel,” and will be part of the double bill at Bourgie Nights. Doors are at 9 p.m.

The Pink Stones and Summer Set — A cosmic country outfit out of Athens, Georgia, The Pink Stones, will be joining Wilmington indie rockers Summer Set at Reggies 42nd Street Tavern on Saturday. The Pink Stones combine pedal steel and down-on-your-luck stylings of country with American rock and driving rhythms on their sophomore album “You Know Who.” The band very much gives Flying Burrito Brothers vibes. Summer Set, featuring founding members Brian Weeks and Robert Rogan, are quintessential to Wilmington’s indie scene. They paired up again over the last few years after a decade-long hiatus and are working on new music. It’s their first time playing Reggies, with a new lineup as well (read more about the band and their first album release from last fall, published by Port City Daily here).

Friday, February 23, 2024

17 things to do in the Wilmington area for the final weekend of February

[Repost from StarNews; by John Staton, February 21, 2024]


Feb. 24 at Bourgie Nights: Two of Wilmington's top musical acts team up for what should be an epic, stylistically diverse double bill.

Dead Cool is the 
Wilmington goth/darkwave/synth pop duo of Johnny and Angela Yeagher, who have attracted an audience for darkly catchy, retro songs about alienation and obsession. And while songs like "The Last Time" might have such lyrics as, "The future's so black I cannot see," there's also a playful side to Dead Cool. It shows up in their videos, with a cute little white fluffball of a dog trying to bite Johnny as he strolls around Greenfield Lake in "Until Death," and in their wickedly dark cover of '80s pop hit "Send Me An Angel."

Wilmington singer and songwriter Tracy Shedd is a veteran of the national indie rock scene who matches sweet, understated vocals with lyrics that can be at once subtle and searching. Shedd's latest single is "Let It Ride," a groovy, moody meditation on patience and trust. 
9 p.m. doors, 10 p.m. show, Feb. 24. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 day of show.


Feb. 24 at Reggie's 42nd Street Tavern: Along with Pink Beds and Pink Skull Garden, this is the third "pink" band we've had in Wilmington recently. The Pink Stones hail from Athens, Georgia, and play what they term "cosmic country" or "spacey honky tonk." Good stuff.

Sharing the bill are Wilmington indie-rock stalwarts Summer Set, 
who last year came out of performance hibernation to drop an excellent new album of classic songs and newer work. With opening act Kit McKay. 7 p.m. Feb. 24, $15.


Feb. 24 at Palate: It's a busy Saturday night for Wilmington label Fort Lowell Records, with three acts on their roster in action. Along with Summer Set and Tracy Shedd, number three is Kicking Bird, which is led by singer-guitarist Shaun Paul and his wife, Shayla, who sings and plays keyboards. They both write hooky songs that rock while often carrying a girl-group sheen, with lyrics about love and life that make both the ups and the downs sound like celebrations. Kicking Bird's live show is a frenzied, sweaty affair, and their 2023 album "Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" ain't too bad either. 7 p.m. Feb. 24, free.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Two Phoenix music stars unite on stellar new album

[Repost from Phoenix New Times; by Tom Reardon, February 16, 2024]

It’s hard not to get sucked in by the poetry of Jon Rauhouse’s music.

Longtime fans of the Valley legend and sideman to the stars know what I’m talking about. Rauhouse has a way of turning a song into a spiritual experience with a single bend of a guitar string. It’s just what he does.

For the unfamiliar, please get acquainted. There's a little something for everyone in the Rauhouse repertoire, except maybe a speed metal record. The guy’s been cranking out good music since the late 1970s, but anyone and everyone is welcome to the party any time.

The last several years have been difficult, to say the least. Rauhouse has been battling the type of cancer diagnosis that would stop many people right in their tracks, but thanks to some new drug therapies, things are at least looking manageable at present. As interesting as that aspect of Rauhouse’s life is, or the years he spent touring with Neko Case, Billy Bob Thornton or as a member of Grievous Angels or Sleepwalker, there's something even more pressing to explore.

Most recently, he’s been collaborating with Blaine Long, a Valley musician with a wealth of talent and charisma. A one-time contestant on television's "The Voice," Long, like Rauhouse, has diligently been carving out a living and career making records here in Phoenix. Together, though, they have made a record. "One Day Will Never Come Back" (Fort Lowell Records) will assuredly be remembered as the finest record to come out of Arizona in 2023.

That’s no shade towards any of the other worthy candidates for this type of accolade, but it’s true. "One Day Will Never Come Back" is only seven tracks and clocks in at less than half an hour, but within these songs, is a love letter from Long and Rauhouse to life in all its glory and pain. If countrified Americana with a tremendous groove and even bigger heart is your thing, "One Day Will Never Come Back" is a perfect record for you.

In fact, on Sunday, Feb. 18, you can hear it for yourself. Long and Rauhouse, as well as some talented friends, will play the record live at The Dirty Drummer in Phoenix at 2 p.m. That’s right, a matinee show, with another of Rauhouse’s outfits, The Sunpunchers, opening up. It’s also free, so there's no excuse to miss it.

To sit and talk with these gentlemen is a distinct pleasure. What you'll find is a friendship based on respect and admiration, but also drive. The kinetic force of their will is palpable, and they often complete each other’s sentences. It’s no wonder they made such a special record.

The two met when Long reached out to Rauhouse to do a New Year’s gig at Tarbell’s in the days before COVID hit.

“I’ve been playing shows forever here and he’s been playing shows forever here. (Long) had done something huge. He had gotten on 'The Voice,' so I knew his name. There was a whole undercurrent of everyone knowing who he was because in music because he had done that. For musicians, that’s a huge grab. I don’t know if it helps that much, but it makes the world think it does,” Rauhouse says.

“I was in the scene, but I wasn’t in the scene. His name was a name, like the upper echelon. They’re the guys. I was scared of him,” Long adds.

The connection gelled, though, from playing some gigs together and talking about what else they could do. During the early days of the pandemic, Rauhouse chose to play it safe and stay close to home due to his considerable health concerns, and the two songwriters forged their friendship and collaborative partnership.

Long and Rauhouse began hosting their podcast, "The Musician’s Guide To Everything," in April 2021. You can find episodes here, if so inclined, to get an inside look at various aspects of musicians' lives and the music world. For Rauhouse, the work with Long was helpful in sustaining his health.

“It was very helpful. The last think I had done with Neko (Case, who Rauhouse has toured and recorded with for over a decade) was a tour cycle we finished in March (2020). We had several tours booked after March that got shitcanned. Because I got so sick, I couldn’t go on tour. Being able to play with Blaine … we get along really well. He’s a great songwriter with really good sensibilities. It was just easy and a no-brainer,” Rauhouse says.

For Long, it was breath of fresh air, as well. After being on "The Voice," things got a little crazy for him.

“I was getting bullshit offers, weird stuff, because of 'The Voice.' To come through the storm of that stuff and band members … everything got really ugly and wild, but everything got settled (with Rauhouse). We were friends who played music together. It was really nice,” says Long, who had one prospective bandmate ask him for $20,000 thinking being on "The Voice" had made him rich.

The perspective Rauhouse and Long bring to "One Day Will Never Come Back" is refreshing. While the subject matter is not always the happiest, the overall tone of the record is one of hope and triumph. The collaboration between Long and Rauhouse really does seem to be one of comfort and openness, which can be difficult in the music world due to egos and agendas driven by the thirst for fame. But there's none of that here.

Long and Rauhouse assembled a veritable all-star team to bring "One Day Will Never Come Back" to life at Darren Baum's Phoenix studio, Sonic Piranha. Longtime Rauhouse compatriots Lindsay Cates (bass/vocals) and Megyn Neff (violin/viola), as well as Rachel Flotard of Visqueen join in here, as well as some truly awesome contributions by drummer Frank Rowland, and Emily Hunt (cello) on multiple tracks.

“Nothing Lasts Forever” opens the record, and it’s just classic Rauhouse. The guitars carry the listener as if on a cloud. Before you know it, though, you are right into “Jerome,” which features some excellent work by Mitski’s Ty Bailie on the Hammond B3 organ and Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin on saxophone.

“I’d worked with Steve Berlin on a couple of projects he was producing, so I knew him. I had been thinking about (him), and another friend called and said, ‘Steve Berlin says hi.’ I was like, ‘Oh, this is synchronicity. Tell him I have a couple songs I want him to play on,’ and he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ So, that’s how that happened,” Rauhouse says.

“Jerome” also boasts some excellent backing vocals from Betsy Ganz, Raquel Denis and Paula Tesoriero. Local fans will recognize those names from groups like The Sunpunchers and Paula T & Company, as well as acclaimed solo work. The song is truly soulful and the vocal harmonies blend wonderfully with Long’s distinctly rich voice and Berlin’s saxophone blasts.

Bailie’s work on the Hammond B3 is also pretty darn fantastic. It’s hard to pick the best track on "One Day Will Never Come Back," but “Jerome” is one of those songs that should be on every radio, everywhere if people still listened to the radio like they did in the days “Jerome” evokes.

Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms’ fame contributes a guitar track on “Pretty Love Song.” Valenzuela’s solo fits the track perfectly, and Gin Blossoms fans will recognize his deft touch. For Long and Rauhouse, it was a treat to have him join the studio fun.

“It was two passes, see you later, and they were both perfect,” Rauhouse says with a twinkle in his eye.

“It was just cool. Good music wins. The best thing on that song is that we didn’t ask him to do the solo. In my head, I was thinking, ‘Do you want to do the solo?’ but I was just grateful to have him on it and he asked, ‘Do you want me to do the solo?’ and he went at it twice … I think that's my favorite,” Long says.

With friends like these and a strong partnership, there's no telling what Long and Rauhouse can accomplish. As the album title implies, there's really no point in looking toward the past. It is comforting to know these two men are looking steadfastly at what is coming next. And there's something truly poetic about two friends making great music for the rest of us to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Dead Cool + Tracy Shedd at Bourgie Nights in Wilmington NC Saturday, February 24th


From the coastal charm of Wilmington, North Carolina emerges intriguing electronic duo, Dead Cool. Their namesake, drawn from a Chrome Cranks number, resonates with the unique chemistry of Johnny's multifaceted vocal, synthesizer, and guitar prowess, coupled with Angela Yeagher's bass rhythms and harmonizing vocals. Infused with the evocative notes of darkwave, post-punk, and synthpop, Dead Cool's musical offerings, established since 2020, have been garnering an enthusiastic following both domestically and internationally.

Tracy Shedd is an indie rock musician who has released six studio albums with Teen-Beat, New Granada Records, Devil In The Woods, Science Project Records, and Fort Lowell Records, licensed music to Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, The Fosters, and “The Rebound” (ft. Catherine Zeta-Jones), performed at CBGB, The Florida Theatre, plus festivals such as CMJ and SXSW, and has shared the stage with Cyndi Lauper, Cat Power, Iron & Wine, The Magnetic Fields, and David J (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets); not to mention Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth sat in on drums for her during a US tour. In this current era following her time spent performing under the name Band & The Beat, Tracy Shedd has been and continues to focus on releasing individual tracks through Fort Lowell Records as digital singles and on various compilation albums.

Monday, February 12, 2024

'Never gonna get back to normal': Cancer halted his touring. But he's not done making music

[Repost from AZCentral; by Ed Masley, February 8, 2024]

Jon Rauhouse had been hoping to get back out on the road with Neko Case in 2024.

The multi-instrumentalist from Phoenix has played steel guitar, banjo and more in Case’s touring band for more than 20 years, but had to pull out of a summer tour in 2021 while undergoing treatment for the prostate cancer he’d been diagnosed with earlier that year.

When he agreed to the tour set to launch on March 13 in Missoula, Montana, he was “feeling really good,” he says. “And then the bottom dropped out of my adrenal glands.”

Those glands “control your heart rate, your blood pressure, your temperature, your digestion, all this stuff,” he says. “It was, like, literally killing me. Now, I'm OK. I take one pill in the morning, one in the afternoon. I get through it, go to sleep and do the same thing the next day. I'm gonna have to do it forever. So I won’t be able to get back to touring with Neko.”

The pills have helped a lot, he says, but not enough to put his body or his bandmates through another tour.

“I have to take these weird pills twice a day and they have all these side effects and I just can't do it,” he says. “Not on a tour bus. I can still do shows. I'm playing in the Sunpunchers. I'm playing with Blaine Long. I'm playing with Norm Pratt, doing a bunch of studio stuff. I'm making more records. But I'm never gonna get back to the normal of what my life was.”

When Rauhouse said he couldn’t do the tour this year, Case volunteered to build a tour around him.

“She said, 'Look, I'll tell you what. We'll do a short tour that starts in Phoenix, you do as much as you can and then go home when you can't,’” he says. “I think she missed me. I know I miss her.”

Rauhouse has been keeping busy on the music front

That tour isn't happening, but Rauhouse has been doing all he can to get back to some semblance of the life he knew and loved before cancer made so much of what he used to do impossible.

“I have really good days,” Rauhouse says, “and really bad days.”

Last year, Rauhouse recorded a great new album with Long titled “One Day Will Never Come Back," released by Fort Lowell Records in November 2023. He and Long will be playing selections from that album with a 10-piece band in a special matinee performance at the Dirty Drummer on Sunday, Feb. 18.

In January, he recorded eight songs with the other members of Sleepwalker, a band he used to play with in the ‘90s.

Neko Case is tracking part of her next album with Rauhouse in Phoenix

And Case says she’s planning on coming to Phoenix before the tour starts with recording engineer Jeff Gallagher to track Rauhouse’s parts for her next album.

“She's like, 'I'll just have Jeff come in and set up his recording rig with some good mics in your living room and do it,'" Rauhouse says.

"I'm like, 'That'd be great with me. I’ll play in my pajamas.' That's better than sending me to Vermont and getting a hotel room, renting a car and all that stuff. So it's working out. It's just all different. And I do feel guilty that people are making concessions.”

Rauhouse may not be on the open road, but his music is going international

The normal life he once enjoyed included tours with not just Case but Jakob Dylan, Billy Bob Thornton and Iron & Wine with Ben Bridwell.

In addition to playing on albums by Case, Thornton’s Boxmasters, Calexico, Dr. Dog, K.T. Tunstall, the Old 97's and Giant Sand, he's done several albums of his own since he started playing steel guitar in the late ‘70s.

He’s still doing session work. He’s just doing most of it out of Sonic Piranha in the Coronado neighborhood of Phoenix.

“I have a buddy of mine who's a producer out of New York,” Rauhouse says. “Every three or four months, he calls and has some project he wants steel on. So I do it at Sonic Piranha and mail it off to him.”

He’s been doing the same thing with his friend Jim Kaufman, a Phoenix-born producer now residing in Los Angeles.

“He had some country guy from England that ended up with a No. 1 song in Australia, No. 2 song in the U.K., big in Japan on one of the songs I did,” he says. “So that was really cool.”

Recording an album with Blaine Long was 'a great experience'

He’s especially proud of the album he and Long recorded after raising nearly $6,000 in an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

That allowed them to cover the studio time and assemble a stellar assortment of backing musicians, from Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and Rachel Flotard of Visqueen to Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms, Mitski organist Ty Bailie, and Lindsay Cates and Megyn Neff, who play with Rauhouse in the Sunpunchers.

“It felt really good to just go, ‘OK, this is what we're gonna do and this is how we're gonna do it,” Rauhouse says. “And it was such a great experience. I didn't feel the need to have anybody who wasn't pleasant on the record.”

Long, a singer-songwriter who famously appeared on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2016, has been playing with Rauhouse for four or five years.

“Maybe two years before COVID, just out of the blue, he contacted me on Facebook Messenger and said, 'Hey, I'm doing a New Year's Eve show at Tarbell's. You want to play?'” Rauhouse says. “We did it, had a blast, and I've been playing with him ever since.”

They even started their own podcast, the Musician’s Guide to Everything, with guests including Thornton, Case and Jakob Dylan.

The music on “One Day Will Never Come Back” is a true collaboration, with Rauhouse producing songs they wrote together at Sonic Piranha.

“A lot of it was his meat and I just put some seasoning on it,” Rauhouse says. “But ‘One Day Will Never Come Back,' I wrote that one and he seasoned it a little bit for me. And then he wrote the instrumental because I'm the instrumental guy."

Rauhouse is also recording a solo album of steel guitar instrumentals

Rauhouse says he’s also working on a solo album of steel guitar instrumentals, much of it based of recordings he’s stored on his phone.

“When I come up with a riff, I'll just turn that note recorder on my phone on,” Rauhouse says. “I have (expletive) back to 2012 on there, so I was going through all that stuff and found four or five songs that are really good steel guitar songs. So I'm gonna do those and write a couple new ones.”

“I found the last song we were working on,” he says. “I didn't realize we’d run the whole thing, just me and him, on the phone. It’s two guitars doing harmony picking, like Speedy (West) and Jimmy (Bryant). It's not steel guitar. It's two guitars. So I took it to Sonic and had him sweeten that up with EQs. Then I called Tommy's son and got him to play bass on it. And I got John Utter on drums.”

He’s doing his best to release all the music he can.

Releasing new music and 'counting time'

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I feel like I'm counting time here until the end,” he says.

“I don't know that. They're not telling me that. But I don't have a great diagnosis. I'm fine. I just feel like I need to get these things out, for some sort of twisted reason that the cosmos might care. But I don't think the cosmos will care.”

Beyond just documenting his ideas for the cosmos, making music gets him through the tendency to let the darkness get the best of him at times.

“It helps a lot,” he says. “And if it's with other people, it helps even more, because I've come to realize I can sit and noodle and do all this stuff by myself, but it's not near as fun as just having one other person there to bounce stuff off of — you know, trade ideas and stuff like that.”

How to see the Jon Rauhouse and Blaine Long release show

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18.

Where: The Dirty Drummer, 2303 N. 44th St., Phoenix, Arizona

Admission: Free.

Details: 602-840-2726,

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Tracy Shedd | Florida Tour

Friday, February 2 | Tavares, FL | Far Reach Farm | w/ Harber Wynn
Saturday, February 3 | Jensen Beach, FL | Tako Tiki w/ Sandman Sleeps, We Are / They Are
Sunday, February 4 | Tampa, FL | Microgroove Record Store
Monday, February 5 | Jacksonville, FL | Jack Rabbit's | w/ Me Like Bees, Blissfund

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Pressing Concerns: Common Thread – Fountain (30th Anniversary)

Release date:
 December 8th
Record label: Fort Lowell
Genre: Noise rock, shoegaze, 90s indie rock, post-punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Template

This year, Wilmington, North Carolina’s Fort Lowell Records have put out new music from a couple of longtime indie rockers in 
James Sardone and Summer Set, but for their final release of 2023, they’ve gone even further and grabbed a lost southeastern-U.S. indie rock record to hoist from relative obscurity in Common Thread’s Fountain. Common Thread originated in the late 1980s in the suburbs of Jacksonville, Florida, putting out Six Marbles and a Bowl of Mud in 1990 and following it up with Fountain, released only on cassette, in 1993. The band–guitarists Joe Parker and Travis Taylor, bassist Joey Zimmerman, and drummer Craig Parlet–toured the East Coast extensively, making an impression on the co-founders of Fort Lowell Records with their noisy but melodic mix of 1980s post-punk, noise rock, and shoegaze. The label’s James Tritten and Tracy Shedd have made it clear that this reissue campaign is especially personal for them–but, as someone who hadn’t heard of Common Thread at all before this year, I can confidently say that one didn’t have to “be there” at the time to appreciate their sophomore album. 

Last month, I wrote about 
The Veldt, another band who was making loud, layered indie rock at the same time in the same part of the country. It’s enough to suggest that the American Southeast is an underappreciated part of this era of underground music–not the least of which is because Fountain sounds so different from The Veldt’s Cocteau Twins-indebted sound. Common Thread were certainly influenced by Sonic Youth, as they had a similar attitude with regards to wringing noise out of their guitars, but they also brought a British sense of dour melody to their music that Parker, Taylor, and Zimmerman (all singers and songwriters) hid underneath their instruments. At the same time, the prominent, rumbling bass that marks songs like “Sesame” and “Digit” feels very American noise rock–coupled with Parlet’s tireless drumming, Common Thread boasted a rhythm section that a lot of contemporary “amplifier worship” guitar-heavy bands didn’t really have. Fitting of a band with three different leaders, Fountain feels like a lot–it’s absolutely a statement worth shining some more light on after three decades. (Bandcamp link)

Friday, December 8, 2023

OUT NOW: Common Thread 'Fountain' 30th Anniversary Edition

Common Thread’s sophomore album Fountain is a holy grail of northeastern Florida indie rock. Originally released in 1993 on cassette tape, Fountain breaks sonic barriers. Melding influences from Echo & The Bunnymen to The Flaming Lips to Ride to Sonic Youth, Common Thread delivers a wall of dazzling dissonance unto their own. “Lydia Elle” and “Smoldering Black” convey astute lyrical poetry backed by extraordinary melodic hooks that set in deep. Fountain is a time capsule that has preserved nine incredible audible gifts, commemorating Common Thread’s ability and authority.

Originating from Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, Common Thread came to the scene first in 1990 with their debut Six Marbles and a Bowl of Mud featuring Donald Kilpatrick on drums. Shortly after, Craig Parlet would replace Donald, joining guitarist Joe Parker and Travis Taylor, along with Joey Zimmerman on bass. Not too long after, the quartet documented their newly formed union with Fountain. Common Thread toured up and down the east coast, sharing the stage with counterparts such as Agent Orange, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Crowsdell (Shannon Wright), The Grifters, The Knack, The Smithereens, Sonic Boom, They Might Be Giants, and The Veldt. Their national outreach provided a roadmap for Floridian musicians who followed suit.

Parker, Taylor, and Zimmerman all took stake in songwriting and vocal responsibilities on Fountain. Parker spearheading six arioso tunes, including both singles, while Taylor has a trio of sui generis numbers, and Zimmerman closes out Fountain with his own haunting denouement “Polka-Dot-Frock”. The common thread that fuses their talents together lies somewhere between their outlook, grit, and acute tone bending desires; altogether revealing one unified voice known as Common Thread.

James Tritten and Tracy Shedd, owners of Fort Lowell Records, were not just in the audience at those Common Thread shows three decades ago, they were both close friends with each band member and fortunate to witness Common Thread’s conception. To this date, Fountain is one of the couple’s greatest influences, and continues to provide inspiration for their own various musical outlets. To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Fountain, Fort Lowell Records has made this landmark album available on vinyl record and all digital music platforms for the first time, allowing Common Thread’s magnum opus an opportunity to excite many generations to come.

Common Thread Fountain is now available on 12inch vinyl record, as well as all digital music platforms.

Monday, December 4, 2023

'This Water is Life': Wilmington record label uses music to do good


[Repost from Spectrum News 1; by Natalie Mooney, November, 30, 2023]

An independent record label in the Cape Fear region is using music for good.

Fort Lowell Records is releasing its third record in the series "This Water is Life," something that not only highlights local musicians’ work but also gives a platform to organizations promoting clean water.

Fort Lowell Records was started in 2009 by James Tritten. Since then, he’s released an impressive collection of records, highlighting both local artists and artists from all over the country. Now, he’s using records to raise awareness of important issues in his community.

“In 2020, we did a compilation called 'Grow,' which featured all Wilmington Indie Rock bands,” Tritten said. “And we used that as a fundraiser to raise money for the New Hanover County’s chapter of the NAACP.”

Since then, he’s started a series called "This Water is Life," which not only highlights new music from the region but also gives a platform for environmental organizations — like Cape Fear River Watch and the Coastal Plain Conservation Group — to speak on the health of the Cape Fear River Basin.

“The water problem is an ongoing thing, it has been for decades as well, but we don’t see it going away, of course, it’s not a one-time fix it and be done,” Tritten said. “So we thought by creating a series that would help bring awareness to that through music, it would help educate more people.”

The Cape Fear River is the main drinking water supply for 500,000 people, and it is contaminated with forever chemicals like GenX, which can be harmful if consumed. That’s why Dana Sargent, the executive director of Cape Fear River Watch, is happy to use "This Water is Life" to help spread the word about the contamination and the fight for clean water.

“Everything that we’re relying on in this community especially is built on the water, either on the river or the ocean or both,” Sargent said. “So this is so huge and so great that James and Fort Lowell have kind of brought these two beautiful things together.”

It’s not just the music on the album, Tritten uses every part of the record to get the message across.

“The liner note portion of the record itself here is what we refer to is written by Cape Fear River Watch where they speak to how the water is affecting us as humans,” Tritten explained. “Meanwhile on this side, the Coastal Plain Conservation Group is speaking to the wildlife and how the wildlife is being affected.”

Sargent has been writing liner notes on behalf of her organization for all three records in the series.

“James was like, 'just write what you’re thinking,' and I was thinking about the heaviness of the world, and I wrote, ‘Unless we take the time sit with the heaviness of the world, we become heavy with it, and that’s when apathy bleeds in,'” Sargent said. “And what can we do? For me, the answer has always been to immerse myself in music and nature, and so that’s kind of what this project does.”

That’s also why cydaddy, one of the two musicians on the record, says he wanted to be involved.

“Growing up in the area, you spend a lot of time growing up in wildlife, outdoor habitats,” cydaddy said. “So to be part of an intersectionalist piece of art that can bring both awareness to the local art scene and kind of bring awareness to the health of the wildlife around the community was super special to me.”

Sheme of Gold is the other musician on featured on the record. You can check out more of his work here.

Tritten is excited for the record to be released and hopes that this collaboration can help lead to change.

“The most rewarding part for me is simply bringing awareness to the community and just helping drive more projects in the community with like-minded people for a positive effort,” Tritten said. “And of course, if they can help Coastal Plain Conservation Group and Cape Fear River Watch get their agenda across to a new audience then that’s the greatest success of all.”

Click here if you would like to buy a digital download of the album or purchase a copy of the vinyl record.

You can also find a copy at Gravity Records in Wilmington.

If you would like to volunteer with Cape Fear River Watch, you can click here.

If you would like to get involved with the Coastal Plain Conservation Group, you can click here.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

“Center of Attention”, Summer Set

[Repost from Rosy Overdrive; November 28, 2023]

From Summer Set (2023, Fort Lowell)

The members of Wilmington, North Carolina’s Summer Set have played together in some form for over twenty years, although this self-titled album is the first full-length to have surfaced yet under the Summer Set name. It’s a breezy, timeless collection of indie rock of several stripes–some heavier and spacier than others, but consistently interesting. Opening track “Center of Attention” sets a high bar with its deft rendition of alt-country, folk rock, jangle pop, and power pop–a bunch of ingredients to make a song that sounds incredibly simple and incredibly catchy.

Friday, December 1, 2023

OUT NOW: This Water is Life, Vol. III ft. Sheme of Gold + cydaddy

This Water is Life is a self-sustained and ongoing series of split EPs with two express purposes: to highlight new hip-hop / indie rock music from Southeastern North Carolina, as well as to provide a platform for Cape Fear River Watch and Coastal Plain Conservation Group to deliver up-to-date authoritative reports on the health of the Cape Fear River Basin for both human beings and wildlife.

Ever since our forebears crawled up out of the water and drew their first breath, our – which is to say human and animal (and for that matter, plant) – experience has never strayed too far from its life-sustaining force. This water IS life. It will continue to be. But what kind of life? Threats to that water are, in turn, threats to the very life it supports. 

Inspired by photography focused on water in urban landscapes against a backdrop of the evolving GenX (PFAS) water pollution problem in the Wilmington, NC / Cape Fear region, This Water is Life is a local multimedia, multi-platform project. It takes what Fort Lowell Records does best – put out and promote killer indie music of varied stripes – and fuses it with photography and other visual arts alongside river and wildlife advocacy. The goal is a virtuous circle contained within an intended series of records. Packaged together, musical and visual artists from the Port City combined with a separate, serialized and locally-specific environmental message gives rise to the future promotion of other local music acts and further advocacy.

Volume III features Sheme of Gold and cydaddy.

Hip-Hop: Sheme of Gold

Sheme of Gold is an artist born and raised in Goldsboro, North Carolina, who relocated to Wilmington to attend culinary school in 2019, six months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. His unique style of hip hop is nostalgic and psychedelic, which grabs the listeners attention right away. His stories shed light on the struggles he’s endured and the confidence and braggadocio it takes to make a man of this stature. 

Indie Rock: cydaddy

cydaddy is a solo recording project for singer-songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Cyrus Goudarzi. Cyrus’s musical journey started in high school exploring home recording and sneaking around local shows in Wilmington, North Carolina. After an album release in 2010, his musical journey continued to Chicago, Illinois, where he would fill in rotating lineups for the next several years. Following, cydaddy was a leading member of local salt rock outfit Reef Blower.  Unquestionably, cydaddy is a product of his environment in the wildlife of the southeastern coast and has a heavy heart for the natural habitats that have shaped his years.

Just as clean water helps sustain life on Earth and here in the ILM, your purchase of this record fosters the work of not only hip hop, indie rock and visual artists in Wilmington but advances the advocacy of groups seeking to protect and preserve water and wildlife in the region. This water is life.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Illumination Opening at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington NC

Celebrate artistry and light at Cameron Art Museum’s 9th annual artist-made lanterns exhibition, Illumination 2023. Interpreting the light that shines from within, artists from across the United States and Canada have created traditional and contemporary lanterns. This display marks the transition of the season’s change and the year’s end as we begin our return to light. The installation can be enjoyed inside the museum or outside the Studio One windows.

Friday, December 1st is the official opening event for Illumination 2023, featuring Fort Lowell Records LET'S SHINE Vinyl DJ Set, from 6:00-9:00pm.

CAM Members: Free
Not-Yet Members: $15
Students: $5

Monday, November 27, 2023

New album: Jon Rauhouse & Blaine Long || One Day Will Never Come Back

[Repost from Add to Wantlist; by Dennis, November 17, 2023]

Fans of soulful Americana take note. Jon Rauhouse and Blaine Long have written seven beautiful songs, collected on their new LP One Day Will Never Come Back. The personal lyrics of the title track clearly reflect how light and dark go together here: “Feels good, I’m OK, it’s alright, there should be a little pain // A broken heart, some cry, some laugh.” The skilled musicians do what they do best – poetic sophistication, graceful guitar melodies and magical dark vocals – but the superb line-up of guests bringing their best game takes these tracks to an even higher level. Especially the horn arrangements are a tasteful addition, but if you start a song with the words “Living like Bukowski will get you dying like Bukowski” (from Thanksgiving) you’ve already won me over anyway.

One Day Will Never Come Back, produced by Jon Rauhouse and recorded by Darren Baum, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Fort Lowell Records. Featuring Jon Rauhouse (electric guitars, pedal steel, triangle), Blaine Long (vocals, acoustic guitar), Lindsay Cates (bass) and Frank Rowland (drums), joined on selected tracks by Steve Berlin (saxophones), Ty Bailie (Hammond B3), Betsy Ganz (vocals), Raquel Denis (vocals), Paula Tesoriero (vocals), Rachel Flotard (vocals), Jesse Valenzeula (guitar), Megyn Neff (violin, viola) and Emily Hunt (cello).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Fort Lowell

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Time-lapse with Summer Set: Indie rockers debut album, return to local music scene

Summer Set; photo by Shea Carver

Summer Set has a long history on Wilmington’s music scene and have relaunched as of late. Friday, Nov. 3, marks the official release of the self-titled, 10-track “Summer Set,” now available on streaming services and vinyl through Fort Lowell Records.

WILMINGTON — It was the early aughts when two musicians came together by happenstance over a beer at Blue Post to form what would become a quintessential sound on Wilmington’s indie rock scene.

“I needed a bass player,” Brian Weeks recalled Tuesday.

“And I happened to be living with a guy who had a bass, so it worked out — besides the fact I never played bass,” Robert Rogan added.

Summer Set was born. 

The band performed on the local music scene up until 12 years ago. However, Weeks and Rogan were sitting on multiple tracks they recorded throughout the years before being approached in 2018 about turning the songs into a finished album.

Friday, Nov. 3, marks the official release of the self-titled, 10-track “Summer Set,” now available on streaming services and vinyl through Fort Lowell Records. 

Both Weeks and Rogan are English professors at Cape Fear and Brunswick community colleges respectively and have been the steadfast hands in the band. Its lineup has consistently rotated with well-known Wilmington musicians and friends throughout the years: Jeff Reardon (Rodeo Boy), Seth Moody (The NoSeRiDeRs), Jonathan Bass (The Rosebuds), Tripp Cox (Onward, Soldier), Anthony Polcaro, and Ivan Howard (The Rosebuds). 

“Summer Set” is a retrospective of its 22 years of existence. The vinyl form will be for sale at the band’s Saturday show, wherein Summer Set is playing with Tercel at Sandspur.

It’s Summer Set’s second show in two months, an uptick from a decade-long hiatus. Aside from releasing a Christmas song last holiday season, Weeks and Rogan have been involved in other side projects, such as De La Noche, featuring Ivan Howard of The Rosebuds. They also play in Feather with a group of friends, focused on yacht rock tunes.

Over the summer, Weeks and Rogan reinvigorated Summer Set. Its new iteration consists of John Manning on guitar and Dustin Codair on drums. Manning is from Thunderlip, Coverlip and Mountain Thrower, while Codair has been playing with the two Summer Set founders for a while in Feather.

Saturday’s show will pepper in a few new tracks, but the focus will be on the songs of yore, as featured on the newly released album.

“It’s basically different eras of our music,” Weeks said. “The eras are defined by the drummer we had — or the lack of drummer — at the time.”

During those absences, a drum machine was used or Weeks sat behind a kit here and there if needed. He is also the primary songwriter and will bring a lyric or riff to Rogan to flesh out a song.

“I hope to add something good occasionally,” Rogan quipped. 

The partnership is simpatico, according to Weeks: “Bobby hears really good harmonies.”

Laid back and self-admitted perfectionists, the two said they would often spend copious amounts of time on one track while recording Summer Set’s music years ago, between 2000 and 2012. The recordings took place in various places: at Michael Swart’s studio, in Week’s bedroom and a place he dubbed “The Music Box” — a room in the backyard of an old residence 20 years ago. 

“Other than Mike Swart, I don’t know if we ever actually recorded in a real recording studio,” Rogan said.

“We would just kind of get in there during the day when it was quiet, and record the drum tracks, and then I would take the tracks to my house and add the guitar and bass,” Weeks said.

Back then, aside from being on a compilation album produced by Durham label Pox World Empire in 2005 and 2006, which featured North Carolina artists, Summer Set put out independent releases. Weeks would push one-of-a-kind CD-Rs he burned at CD Alley.

“That was pre-internet,” Weeks said. 

CD Alley was quintessential to downtown Wilmington, once located where Black Cat Shoppe is now at the foot of Market Street. Fred Champion — the owner of the record shop and a stalwart of Wilmington’s music scene in his own right — often hosted shows in his third-floor apartment on Princess Street, now Monteith Construction (the company has named one of its conference areas “Fred’s Room” in homage). Champion brought in the likes of My Morning Jacket, David Dondero, Benji Hughes, and multiple other up-and-comers of the day. Summer Set opened for Dondero and Huges throughout the years.

They also did a show with local band Glow in the Dark Scars, which was Champion’s rock outfit. It stands out as one of Champion’s favorite memories, hosted at the now-defunct The Whiskey (Seabird is located where the bar once was).

“It was pretty packed,” Champion remembered. “This was the early days before Whiskey even had a stage, so everyone was on the same level. It felt more intimate, like a private party.”

Champion calls Summer Set’s sound quintessential indie rock, as relevant today as it was when it was first recorded years ago. Though to answer how and why is a bit of a “mystery,” he said.

“It is a certain aesthetic that is difficult to put into words,” Champion elaborated. “I can easily tell you what it is not, but I would have a hell of a difficult time telling you what it is. I believe Summer Set is a band that could have been equally as successful as other Wilmington acts, like The Love Language, The Rosebuds, and Tift Merritt.”

According to Weeks, in its heyday the band played about every other month locally. They were the first, he said, to take the downtown stage at the shuttered Soapbox Laundro Lounge, which operated from 2001 to 2013 in what’s now a Waffle House on North Front Street.

Looking back, Weeks said he wished the band was more productive — perhaps more ambitious and driven.

“We were always pretty laid back and, you know — things change, things come up, but it would have been cool to continue to play more over the years,” Weeks said. “It’s just hard with full-time jobs and families to find the time to stay creative. It can be done, it’s just kind of tough."

‘Summer Set was ahead of its time’

No new music was created for the Fort Lowell Records release. Instead, it’s a time-lapse with Summer Set into Wilmington’s early-to-mid-aughts indie scene.

James Tritten of Fort Lowell began reaching out about putting together the project five years ago. Tritten calls Summer Set’s sound “timeless,” in that it spans various genres and includes traditional melodies that make for infinitely catchy earworms.

“In the early 2000s, Summer Set was ahead of its time,” Tritten said, “merging country-twang with the edgy dissonance of indie rock.”

The band’s infectious pop melodies embrace dreamy ethereal soundscapes, soul and R&B. Summer Set featured “Comfortable Town” on Fort Lowell Records’ 2020 release “GROW: A Compilation in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

When Tritten and his wife, Tracy Shedd, first heard the band’s 2012 song “Camouflage,” they said it was immediate affection.

“We were asking ourselves: ‘Why is this song not available on vinyl?’” Tritten recalls. 

The song starts with stark bass piano notes, leading into a whisper of lyrical melodies, backed by shoegaze-y instrumentals and a soulful rhythm.

Tritten said it took everything in his power not to kick off the album with the track. Instead “Camouflage” appears toward the end, so listeners can fully understand the band and its power.

“When it hits, it hits hard,” Tritten described, “and feels so good. It’s the kind of song that stops you in your tracks, and makes the world stop spinning for a brief moment."

A host for DJ events at Satellite Bar and Lounge every Tuesday, Tritten has been closing out sets with “Camouflage” as of late. Before, he said he and his wife were “selfishly” tuning into the recording Weeks shared with them years ago, just waiting for the right time to compel a “Summer Set” release on vinyl. Talks had been circulating, but forward movement stalled, especially when Covid-19 hit and obligations shifted.

“James and Tracy pushed this into existence really,” Weeks said. “Some of our last songs were written eight years ago and nobody ever heard them because they weren’t released, so it made sense to put them out now.”

The Fort Lowell crew spent 72 hours choosing the arrangement of tracks on the album, with Weeks and Rogan having final approval. Tritten said he approached its pecking order the same way he would deejaying a set.

“As someone who curates music for an audience’s listening enjoyment, you often find yourself either telling a story with the selection of songs you choose to play back-to-back, or you create an ever-evolving mood with what you play at various points in the evening,” he said. “I always like to start off easy, then get into music with more energy, and take it down a notch toward the end of my set.”

The sequencing of “Summer Set” kicks off with the band’s most popular song, “Center of Attention,” from the early aughts. It’s an Americana-bent track underscored by poppy rhythms.  

On the release, it’s followed by the shoegaze rock of “Financial District” from 2002. A few more experimental-forward pieces, like “The Jetty” (2012), featuring Weeks on drums, and a key-heavy “Red Wine” (2012), with the raindrop effects heard on Toto’s “Africa” looped in, are included. Weeks called “Red Wine” more of a dance song, a different output than the band’s earlier roots sound.

“That was fun to make,” he remembered. “We were just learning how to use electronic software.”

Weeks compared it to an earlier snapshot of what he and Rogan did with Ivan Howard in the poppy, ambient-heavy De La Noche on 2019’s “Blue Days, Black Nights.”

“We’re getting a lot better at it, for sure,” he added about the advancement of technology and refining their craft.

The only change Weeks made to Summer Set’s tracks came with an additional lead guitar recorded over “Red Wine.” He then turned over the recordings to Tritten and Shedd. 

When Rogan listened back to the release for the first time, he said it brought back a swell of memories. He also was pleased with the way the project turned out.

“Surprisingly, I was really impressed,” he said. “I think why the songs stand the test of time or whatever is because we always worked pretty slowly, meticulously, in recording them.”

He called some of the songwriting sheer “magic,” in how swiftly it came together, despite how long it took to release.

“It’s interesting because I’ve been in other bands in my past, where I’ll listen back to a recording and be kind of embarrassed or something,” Weeks added. “But I didn’t get that cringy feeling here."

‘It definitely has that fairy dust’

Weeks played in Reverse locally before moving away from Wilmington for a short stint, only to return and start Summer Set with Rogan. The band’s last show was roughly 10 years ago — until recently. 

They joined the stage with their new crew on a joint bill with the Paper Stars in September at Bourgie Nights. They played to a packed crowd of familiar faces. One fan described it as “an old high school reunion you wanted to attend.” 

Rogan and Weeks agreed. 

“It was great to see Fred [Champion],” Weeks said. “It was my favorite part of the show, running into all of these old-school, cool people.”

The band’s sound hadn’t weathered, nor had the performances. Rogan said getting back on stage as Summer Set felt somewhat effortless.

“It’s really weird, like a muscle memory thing,” he said. “But it definitely brings me back to writing songs on Seventh and Grace — it transports me to a great time in my life.”

Summer Set performed new tracks at the show, including “My Isolation” and “Better Days.” Weeks wrote the former during the Covid-19 pandemic, a reference to being stuck without anywhere to go.

“It just kind of came together very quickly,” he said.

“That one’s a fun one to play,” Rogan added. “It definitely has that fairy dust or whatever on it, in the same way ‘Center of Attention’ did.” 

“Better Days” harkens back to a country sound the band leaned into during its early days. “It has more of a gallop to it,” Weeks described. Yet, the band’s newest additions with Manning and Codair are also bringing a more forward-rock sound. 

“I think it’s cool playing with two guitars,” Weeks said. “You know, we used to play with Seth Moody and he could play guitar and keyboard at the same time — like literally in the same song simultaneously. He’s an awesome musician.”

Moody moved to Memphis almost a decade ago. But Rogan’s holding out hope the keys will make their way back to Summer Set eventually.

“When I listened back to the Summer Set stuff, the keyboards, I never really thought of it, but that was a big part of the sound — and I would love to add those back in,” he said. “But I’m really happy with what we’re doing now. When I think about what I would do differently, it comes to enjoying the moments that we had more and not taking them for granted. Being more grateful — that’s the word I’m looking for — ‘grateful.’”

The band began practicing over the summer and are focused on recording new music now. They are polishing the tunes, with the intent to release an album of original music, perhaps next year, but no one is setting a firm timeline just yet.

“Sooner rather than later,” Rogan said. “But you know, based on our track record…”

“Hopefully, it won’t be another 20 years,” Weeks chimed in.

Summer Set’s show with Tercel will be free and takes place at the Sandspur in Carolina Beach on Saturday at 7 p.m. The band will be playing in the outdoor area behind the restaurant and bar at 103 Lake Park Blvd. S.

“Summer Set” Track Listing

  • Center of Attention // 2001-2005
  • Financial District // 2000-2002
  • The Jetty // 2012
  • The Empress //  2000-2002
  • Red Wine // 2012
  • An Invitation // 2012
  • Favorite Places // 2001-2005
  • Crackhead In My Car // 2000-2002
  • Camouflage // 2012
  • Coast to Coast // 2001-2005
Listen to the album here.